Smarter, faster and cheaper – Crane beats freight everyday

Safe craning in NYC is hard work but your budget will thank you: Planning and preparation are key to a safe, efficient craning operation. The details are important- lives are at stake.

Any urban roof deck installation is an elaborate and complex undertaking, especially when the fastest, most cost-effective way to deliver soil, planters, trees and decking to the roof is by crane. Reliably delivering tons of material to a site six, twelve, twenty or more stories up can take weeks with a freight elevator- or be completed in a single day with the right piece of craning equipment. These projects typically require street closures, which mean coordinating with city agencies, obtaining permits, prepping the site, scheduling deliveries and managing teams of workers and crowds of onlookers and passersby. And all that before anything is being craned- Large scale roof deck installs are not for the inexperienced.

Choose the right company and the right equipment-

When planning a project that requires a crane of any size, it’s critical to choose an experienced, professional company. From small residential projects to very large new developments, there are many variables involved, and lives are literally at stake. Finding a knowledgeable and dependable supplier is absolutely critical.

Cranes can be a big ticket item and can prompt sticker shock even on big-budget projects. Lifting equipment can cost between $10,000 and $70,000 for a single day of craning. This is another reason to work with a qualified and experienced crane operator- they’ll help to select the right equipment for the project, avoiding the mistake of paying for equipment that is larger than necessary. There are some techniques to help squeeze the most from a budget, including sharing the cost with other contractors who need their own material brought to the roof or debris removed to street level.

Logistical ballet

Once we’ve gotten through city agency alphabet soup of DOB, DOT, landmarks and parks, and a job has received the necessary permits with approved dates, it’s critical to move swiftly to choose and contract the crane, coordinate deliveries from all your suppliers, ( a challenge deserving of it’s very own article), prepare the site and make arrangements for backup plans and equipment to manage any contingencies.

We always have a forklift on site- truckers aren’t always fond of NYC and like to unload and turn around as quickly as possible. A forklift allows pallets to be moved quickly and efficiently from wherever they’ve been unloaded to exactly where the crane operator needs them to be.

Two to three days in advance of craning, we visit the site to walk through the space and make sure everything is ready for the big day. Blondie’s Treehouse’s Vice President of Operations Ian Dana prepares a rooftop to ensure that once material is being craned, it can be staged and moved efficiently to avoid any logjams. Clearing the rooftop landing site of any material and sometimes preparing a path with high density styrofoam and plywood ensures a smooth path for our material once the crane delivers it.

While on site, we also take measurements and begin planning where the crane will be set up. This is critical- the center pin of the crane is the precise location from which all calculations must be made- 50’ out at 110’ up requires previous coordination with our suppliers to ensure deliveries are below the maximum weight for each pallet to be craned at that distance. Everything must line up perfectly with landing point. Safety always always always comes first- New York City wisely requires that when winds are over 10 mph, loads must be reduced by half. If gusts exceed 20 mph, craning is prohibited and must be rescheduled. A backup plan is absolutely essential.

We prefer all inclusive companies that handle many of these elements- we love Empire Erectors, a longtime master rigger, specializing in facilitating and overseeing craning in New York City. They  provide the crane, the operator, riggers, oilman, engineer, expediter and pedestrian control. From regulations on when cranes may use bridges (before 7 am) to rerouting pedestrian traffic around a worksite, master riggers expertly navigate the regulations and challenges involved in an efficient, safe installation.

Most people aren’t aware of the hundreds of hours spent preparing and supervising the installation of a modern terrace or roof deck. Those of us who spend our days planning logistics and managing installations have a unique perspective on these relaxing spaces- And an appreciation of what’s required for everything to come together as planned.

If you’re planning a roof deck, terrace or other landscape project, we can help to answer questions you don’t even know you have- Our team of experienced Project Managers and Designers is happy to talk, anytime.

9,500 sq ft of Dumbo rooftop…

On the Brooklyn waterfront nestled between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges is 45 Main Street, a 475,000 square-foot office building and one of the signature properties of the neighborhood known as DUMBO. Here, developer Two Trees Management has converted the former factory building to create a mix of private and co-working spaces with incredible views a short walk to the waterfront. With the ground floor dedicated to retailers and the arts, the rooftop is a 9,500 square-foot shared space designed by Landscape Architect James Corner Field Operations and built by Blondie’s Treehouse Inc. We retrofitted the rooftop on this historic building with a mix of stone and wood surfaces. A herringbone pattern of grey and white granite creates a distinct area for blue bistro tables. In the south section of the rooftop an elevated ipe platform introduces an additional level for more casual lounging. Large planters of weathered Corten Steel feature Gleditsia, Amalenchier, Dogwood and Witchhazel as well as perennials and grasses. Custom ipe benches create privacy seating and serve as space dividers along the north and east walls. To install this project on time, Blondie’s brought in a 140-ton crane and secured permits allowing the closure of Washington Street. In a single morning, we lifted 250 cubic yards of soil and drainage stone, twenty-five 15’ trees, each with 30” root balls, 1,600 one gallon perennials as well as pavers and a variety of construction materials. Without the crane, this material would have required the freight elevators for a solid week, a difficult prospect in a busy building at full occupancy. Over a period of nearly four weeks, Blondie’s craftsmen and gardeners fabricated custom woodwork and planters and carefully planted thousands of perennials, shrubs and trees, transforming this rooftop from an empty and unutilized space into a fully realized, functional and quite gorgeous urban landscape.

BTH | Preferred Installer

Sempergreen® Vertical Systems is the creator and supplier of SemperGreenwalls, a unique vertical garden system. With a global reach and a mission to improve the quality of life through innovations in sustainable design, Sempergreen is the leading source of green living wall systems for indoor and outdoor use. Blondie’s Treehouse Inc. is a Preferred SemperGreenwall Installer. Companies with this distinction are recognized by Sempergreen for their proven installation skills and deep knowledge of the product, with an emphasis on quality, execution and client happiness. The SemperGreenwall is composed of modular Flexipanels, which arrive fully planted with lush, fully-grown plants. Flexipanels employ a generous 2” thick mineral wool based profile designed to nourish the plants by promoting and protecting robust, healthy root systems. The SemperGreenwall is truly a modular system, in that neighboring Flexipanels allow each plant’s roots to roam freely between panels, keeping plants healthier and creating a 3-dimensional vertical garden. A key innovation is the electronic sensory system that monitors the irrigation and distribution of fertilizer and nutrients. This cutting edge technology allows for remote monitoring and pinpoint accuracy, creating a highly efficient maintenance program with unmatched results.

11,000 square foot roof deck !



Blondie’s Treehouse is proud to present the newly completed, 11,000 square foot roof deck at 50 West 23rd Street, a conversion project by developer Two Trees Management. Sitting atop the 11th floor, this space is perhaps the most complex and amenity-rich rooftop spaces anywhere in the Flatiron district.

Budgeted at $2MM and designed by James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architect responsible for the High Line, Blondie’s Treehouse’s team of 35 gardeners and tradespeople built this treasure on budget and ahead of schedule. Led by the team of Tina Dituri, Director of Design and Construction, and Charles Casanova, Director of Sales, the scope included translating the Design Development set of drawings and specifications into a complete and realized piece of architecture.

By controlling the entire project from the bid through the shop process, Blondie’s utilized their in-house team and extensive network of local fabricators. Highlights include a stacked ipe deck detail, custom CorTen steel edging, a made-to-order laser cut CorTen screen, pavers, lounges, and a tech bar.

Thermally modified wood is even better than ipe? – Here’s why

We’re really impressed with the thermally modified ash pavers we just installed at the Durst Organization’s 4 Times Square and 1133 Avenue of the Americas.

Thermal modification relies on super heating wood, like ash, in a low oxygen environment to transform the wood into a much tougher, more durable product. Perfect for decking, outdoor furniture and pavers, the treated wood outperforms untreated ash, with a much longer life (25 years), better fire safety rating, and is far more resistant to decay, warping and splintering.

It’s a very eco-friendly product- Sustainably harvested from North American forests, some of the material being used today is reclaimed and repurposed timber felled to help combat blight endangering ash trees.

Heated to temperatures in excess of 180 C, moisture, resins and other extractives are removed from the wood. A low oxygen environment prevents combustion, and the finished product is stronger, better suited to exterior applications and will develop a lustrous, rich patina.

Thermally modified decking and pavers perform as exotic hardwoods, but are ecologically sound, sustainably grown, and a great alternative to depleted stocks of hardwoods like ipe. Available in a variety of sizes as pavers and decking in dimensional lumber sizes.